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One in four adults in hospital at risk of malnutrition

More than a quarter of adults admitted to hospital, mental units or care homes are at risk of malnutrition, according to a survey conducted by the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN).

The overall prevalence of risk of malnutrition was 28% and was the same for admission into hospital and care homes.

Early analysis suggested that the overall prevalence was similar across all four nations in the UK.

Professor Marinos Elia, Chair of BAPEN said: “All hospitals and care homes should implement nutrition screening on admission to ensure that all those at risk – no matter their age or physical appearance – are identified and an appropriate and individual nutritional care plan is provided.

“This finding establishes – if there was any doubt – that malnutrition is a major public health issue in the community that must be addressed both at source and when individuals are admitted into care.”

Commenting on the findings, the National Patient Safety Agency said: “The survey has shown that the majority of organisations taking part in the survey, 89% of hospitals and 82% of care homes, had a nutritional screening policy in place.

“The challenge now is to ensure that all hospital patients and care home residents are screened for malnutrition on admission. The NPSA will continue to work with frontline NHS staff to identify the barriers to nutritional screening and will work with professional stakeholders in the development of solutions to overcome the barriers to screening.”